Writing Journey Update

I’ve always loved writing. I attempted over the years to write while teaching full-time. This was not a good recipe, and though I loved the students and writing unit plans, the call to be a writer was too strong and my time too limited. So with the support of my family, I left teaching at the end of the 2011-2012 school year.

Everyone says it takes time to get published. I’m sure they’re right. Everyone says you need a thick skin to deal with the rejections. I know they’re right on that one: current rejections 21 and counting, as eight manuscripts are sitting in various slush piles right now.

But I’m still writing. I have to. I love it. My thicker skin doesn’t feel too bad! As for time, I’ve gained a lot of patience in our remodeling efforts of our farmhouse. Days have a way of flowing whether I’m angst about something or not, and the best remedy for me is to be in that flow, especially if it means in my manuscript, with my characters, wondering what they’re going to do or say next.

You’re probably only reading this post if you’re on a similar journey. If you’re farther down the road than I, you’ve probably already done much of what I mention below. If you’re new as I was just two plus years ago, I hope this post helps you. I know we’re not all on exactly the same road, but my goals – to broaden the minds and enrich the hearts of children – are likely similar to yours.

Fall of 2012

I started listing ideas and wrote that first draft of that first story!

I became a seller on Teachers Paying Teachers and continue my interest in writing lessons and unit plans (https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Lisa-Connors-4693).

September 2013

I attended my first workshop, The Power of the Picture Book at http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/ I highly recommend this experience. I felt instantly part of the children’s literature community and I am still in contact with people I met there. I also joined SCBWI (http://www.scbwi.org/), which is the place to be in the children’s writing world.

November 2013

I participated in Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo. (http://taralazar.com/piboidmo/) This picture book idea challenge is fantastic for getting motivated, and the daily author or illustrator posts continue to educate me about the craft of writing for children. I’ve drafted at least five ideas from each year I’ve done the challenge.

In 2013 I drafted and revised six manuscripts and submitted five of them at least once.

January 2014

Attended the SCBWI-New York conference. It was wonderful, but the highlights for me were hearing Jack Gantos (http://www.jackgantos.com/) and Kate Messner (http://www.katemessner.com/) as keynote speakers. Here is the blog I wrote about the conference: https://lisaconnors.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/scbwi-ny-a-confirming-experience/

June 2014

Attended the 21st Century Children’s Nonfiction Conference (http://21cnfc.com/).

I like to write fiction picture books with a nature or science theme and I’ve tried a few nonfiction nature books too. This conference was informative and helpful in seeing the difference between fiction and nonfiction.

November 2014

PiBoIdMo again! I love the focused mental frenzy of finding ideas.

In 2014 I drafted and revised ten manuscripts, and submitted eight of them so far.

February 2015

Was spent revising a middle grade novel I wrote 5 years ago while I was still teaching. It was difficult to meet my characters again, but I’ve changed and could see them in a new light. Once I was in that flow, it was easy to sit still (even in my freezing house!) and let them tell me their story.

February 24, 2015

I found and joined Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 (http://www.juliehedlund.com/julies-blog/). It’s easy to draft after PiBoIdMo when those ideas are like secretes wanting out of my head or off the Idea List, but when garden season gets in full swing, I need some extrinsic motivation. 12 x 12 is a year-long challenge to draft and revise one picture book ms each month. I want the motivation, but I also feel this organization will broaden my writing community. I’m looking forward to it.

 March 2015

I’m taking on the Read For Research Month challenge (http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo) with Carrie Charley Brown. While I read picture books every week, I joined this challenge to deepen my understanding of the craft.

So far in 2015, I’ve drafted two manuscripts. What I find hardest is juggling multiple stories. Each ms process – idea, draft, revise (x#s), submit – is happening in conjunction with one or more other manuscripts. It makes me a bit dizzy, until I pick one, greet my characters, and go with the (story) flow.

Good luck to you on your writing journey.



Dog Loves Read Across America Day


NEA’s Read Across America Day is March 2, 2015 and I found the perfect book for the K-2 crowd: Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates (Alfred A. Knopf, 2010). Dog not only loves books, he’s a perfect character for introducing or strengthening the love of books in children. You’ll note he’s a small dog and the books are usually bigger than he is, allowing children to feel comfortable venturing into the unknown territory a book may represent. Dog is so completely in love with books that it would be hard for a reader to not catch his enthusiasm.

As the author and illustrator, Yates has perfected the dance between text and art. Dog’s facial expressions and body language describe his feelings so well. He’s one darn cute dog! Children will relate with all of dog’s feelings from excitement and anticipation about his bookstore, to loneliness and boredom when he has no customers. And finally, to contentment when Dog remembers how books can solve his boredom problem.

I highly recommend sharing Dog Loves Books on Read Across America Day. Of course, we want children to be head over heels in love with their favorite books. Dog shows us it’s ok to love books. But we also want children to use that love to venture into a lifelong reading habit and to spread the magic of reading to others.